Afghan and NATO forces on Friday thwarted an insider attack for the first time since the start of the war, coalition officials said Monday.
Officials said that a joint Afghan-NATO special operations team arrested two men who were in the “advanced stages” of preparing for a strike against a coalition base in Logar province, just south of Kabul.
The planned strike, by two “known insider attack facilitators,” was to include homemade bombs, the recruitment of insurgent fighters and the attempted infiltration of Afghan security forces, the officials said.
The two men had planned several operations throughout Logar province, but this was the first time they had planned an insider attack, according to coalition spokesman Army Maj. Adam Wojack.
NATO forces had conducted surveillance on the two men for several days, Maj. Wojack said.
“After lengthy periods of surveillance, we made the determination of what their intentions were,” he said. “To prevent this, Afghan and coalition forces conducted a strike to detain them and were successful.”
It is too early to tell whether the men belonged to the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, or another insurgent group, he said Monday.
Insider attacks — in which Afghan security forces turn their weapons on their coalition trainers — have claimed the lives of 51 international troops this year, a 45 percent increase since 2011. Defense officials say about one-fourth of such attacks are attributable to Taliban infiltration.
Maj. Wojack said that Friday’s mission marked the first time the coalition had prevented an insider attack.
In two previous incidents, coalition forces detained or killed insurgents who had carried out insider attacks.
On Aug. 30, coalition troops arrested a Taliban fighter who had infiltrated the Afghan National Police and killed two British troops in a May 13 attack in Helmand province.
On Sept. 14, coalition forces killed a Taliban insurgent who was behind a May 11 attack that killed a U.S. soldier and wounded two others in Kunar province.